Aristotle’s Masterpiece

Aristotle’s Masterpiece was the bestselling book about sex and reproduction on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean from the late 17th to the early 20th century—but the book isn’t by Aristotle, and it’s not usually considered a masterpiece. First printed in London in 1684, it was imported to the American … Continue reading

Sir Isaac Newton, Alchemist?

Is it possible that the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest theorists in the history of science, practiced alchemy? That a giant of the scientific revolution shared a dream common among charlatans of his age—to turn lead into gold? William R. Newman, professor of history … Continue reading

Fantasy Aloe Hybrids

When it comes to aloe collecting, Karen Zimmerman’s hybrids are real show-stoppers. As The Huntington’s propagator of succulent plants, Zimmerman has had amazing success breeding striking, jagged-toothed specimens permeated with red, orange, or yellow that produce delectable contrasts with the aloes’ green to bluish-green leaves. Take her Aloe ‘DZ’. A … Continue reading

Organizing an Encyclopedia, Chinese Style

Even by the standards of the day, the task the 15th-century Yongle emperor in China gave to his scholars was unreasonable: compile and organize a book containing all the knowledge of the world, and make sure the information was easy to access. Remarkably, they succeeded in the mission, producing the … Continue reading